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We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

Kenya from Beyoğlu



Thanks to Kenya Matthews for sharing her experience in Turkey with us.

Tell us about yourself
I am a young woman writer who recently made a career move from Accounting to pursue Freelance Journalism opportunities internationally. I was born and raised in New York, NY where I pursued my degree in Literature and Women's Studies

What made you come to Turkey?
I met my fiancé one drunken night in May and we already had individual plans of relocation. We needed a country where we would be relatively safe, without being too 'safe'. An opportunity to work fell into his lap at the last minute, we had a great farewell party NY style and we were off.

What do you do in your daily life?
I visit art galleries, get lost in neighborhoods throughout Istanbul, go to concerts, meet people constantly, see exhibitions and shows at various venues, shop for useless things that I don't need and get drunk with new friends.

Family?
My nuclear family is an acerbic and witty bunch that lives in a well-off suburb just outside of Manhattan. I come from a middle-class, black family, who mainly resides in the southern states. My parents are entrepreneurs and my sister is an HR Director with international clientele. I see them 2-3 times per year.

Can you compare your first days here with today?
I hated it! I made constant pedantic NY comparisons, felt stressed by the gruffness of the locals, pissed that my life of general convenience could not be achieved in the same way, i.e. no-bargaining shopping; cheap technology; company customer service in English; actual directions to any locations with names of streets given. I couldn't stand the over-aggressive street vendors and shop owners and most of all was seriously unnerved by the lack of multicultural dynamicism and the stir that my exotic appearance caused in the streets.
Now-
I have many more connections that help with my basic questions, such as where to get boot-leg DVDs, and how to reach someone in English at Turk Telekom. I am less self-conscious as a foreigner, and have finally cut the NY umbilical cord and decided to fall in love with my new home and all of its eccentricities. And besides, people were always nice to me anyway; I was just typical NYC antisocial!

Has living in Turkey influenced your approach to life?
I'm less stressed about job security, I turn around and every day I see a new small-business venture taking off, it's inspiring.

Turkish language?
Completely at an elementary, 'visitor's guide' level, the course prices are outrageous.

Let's talk about the region you are living in?
I live in an area of Beyoglu, Asmali mescit, straddled between Taksim, Tunel and Pera. Beyoglu is the epicenter of the creative, fiscal and bohemian life in Istanbul even if some areas are gutted out-tourist traps and lures for bourgeois cognoscenti to affirm their own self-worth through overpriced, trashy consumption. There is direct access to Asia, an incredible number of places to get lost if you don't mind the concrete jungle

Have you traveled in Turkey? Tell us your discoveries
Not outside of Istanbul yet.

What is your preferred characteristic trait of Turks?
Uber-friendliness, especially with standoff-ish foreigners

What was the annoying one?
Hysterically defensive posture about Turkey's domestic and international political, economic and social policies.

Turkish Cuisine?
I'm a kahve and popcorn person, the idea of a two-course-and-up-meal is scary to me, besides, my fiancé cooks.

Any suggestion to new comers to Turkey?
Develop solid contacts as soon as possible and don't hesitate to begin the mutually exploitative relationship from everything to home internet set up, to career buzz.

Any suggestion to people planning to visit your region
Always err on the side of no name wine and Efes at any café/restaurant/bar/club because the good stuff is not worth the price and all domestic wines taste the same; take a cursory look at the Grand Bazaar - but that's it!; go rollerblading around the docks at Eminonu and Karakoy; follow any meandering street off of Istiklal for chic, off the beaten track clothes and knick knacks; dress for schizophrenic weather conditions (i.e. layering for outside and unbearable heat inside, or vice versa); expect to pay dearly for the pool unless one is at your hotel, same goes for the gym; go to Yildiz Park with a friend and run through the woods; watch out for the many baby-faced perverts roaming the most crowded areas and clubs; relax and reconcile yourself to thoroughly enjoying a few things instead of plowing through every tourist site.




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Latest comments about this article

 By Groundtruth  17.7.2011

Hi Kenya, I was fascinated by your article. Recently returned to Los Angeles from Istanbul-first trip-which I really loved! As a professional and a person of color, I´d like to get a deeper perspective from you on your experiences in Istanbul. This would be helpful as I´m considering proposing a business venture in healthcare in Turkey to the company for which I work. Kind regards. I can be reached at: [email protected]

 By thefacepainter  12.2.2007

Hello Kenya, I too live in Beyoglu. I just got back from Brazil 2 days ago. I lived here for 1 year and back to stay with my fiance until the end of this year. I am born in England but raised in Toronto. I myself am a woman of colour and related to some of your experiences here. I would love to meet for a coffee if it were possible. I will leave you my email [email protected] I hope you get the message.

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